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The Fallen King: Chapter Seven, pt 2

by MaybeAndrew

Pt 1:


Liam is called to learn the old tongue, but denies the call, wanting to leave his small village instead. After denying the call, monsters lay siege upon Lownire, and he fends them off.

 Liam liked babies, and the monsters were behind him, so all in all, he was having a good morning. From what he’d heard, Maria’s labor was going well, and pretty soon, he’d be helping in the birth ritual. He was looking forward to it. That was one of the rituals he’d never much despised.

He was tired, though, tired all the way to his bones. Though, he was mostly tired to his stomach. The watch had brought them some food during the night, but he’d never eaten enough. It was hard to focus on your meal when death could be hiding out in the shadows. Liam’s mouth watered at the thought of the fish Grandpa had cooked up in the lighthouse.

That had only been the day before, but it felt like weeks.

Grandpa - still up there in the lighthouse.

Before the birth ritual or breakfast, he had one other responsibility to deal with. Checking on Matt.

Though Matt had been cleansed, he still needed a Keeper to confirm that he was uncorrupted.

Darkness was a sly force. Even once a Keeper cleansed a subject, the taint might still remain. The cleansing was not complete if the subject was not entirely willing or if the amount of Astrum or Lastrios was insufficient. If the mortal didn’t fight the Shadow, it could hide beneath the surface for days, slowly taking control of their mind and body, giving them strange strength and intelligence.

Liam didn’t doubt Matt was untainted. The torch had taken all of the Darkness. He knew that in the same unexplainable way, he had known when to use the torch. He had heard it in the roaring of the torch when it had gone out and the whispers of Matt’s sleeping breath. Regardless, the tradition was strict, not just requiring them to wait until sunrise to declare Matt clean, but even then, Matt wouldn’t be allowed back inside the city walls for nine days.

Liam smiled. Arwen would have been jealous. The only safe place outside the walls was the lighthouse, so Matt would be taking the guest bedroom (which was designed for that very purpose) for the next nine days. Liam wouldn’t mind the company much either. The lighthouse was a lonely place. It would be nice to have someone as lighthearted as Matt.

But the lighthouse wasn’t empty anymore. Grandpa was back… Liam pushed the idea out of his mind. He was much too tired to deal with more than one thing at once.

He focused his eyes on the door in front of him. It was made of old dark wood, with the grain lines interrupted by large knots.

“So, you going in?” Fisk asked. Fisk had come along under the pretense of assisting Liam needed, but in reality, he was mostly there because Matt was an old friend of his.

“Oh yeah, sorry. Tired. Got lost in my thoughts,” Liam said. Charles Fisk grunted in understanding, and Liam opened the door.

Matt was being kept in one of the many side rooms in the Keep. The space was small. On its wooden walls hung old tapestries that depicted the once-great Kings City. Liam’s eyes followed the many faded strings of the tall buildings, colorful gardens, and great palace. Though the strings were faded, he could fill in the blank spots with the weaving strings the stories his sister told him when he was small. Those memories coloring in the fruit of the gardens, adding a sparkle to the river, and finishing out the tips of the banners on the castle wall.

In the center of this musty old room, Matt was lying on a large bed. He was covered in so many thick blankets his face was the only part of him visible. He was pale, but some color was already returning to his skin. He seemed to be sleeping soundly.

A sparkling point of color on the far side of the room drew Liam’s eye. Over a bench, the sun glistened through a stained glass window. It filled the room with blue, green, and yellow light. Liam scanned up the image. The bottom was of the sparkling sea, rising out the waves were the ocean cliffs, and crowning the window was the lighthouse itself.

Liam walked up to the window and studied it.

The stained glass was expertly crafted, each tiny piece perfectly placed. The cliffs were wholly accurate, not missing the most minuscule details. Whoever had made the window must have known those cliffs at least as well as Liam, did. They must have known the dips and curves and little craggy edges where he had thrown stones to watch them splash - the little paths between the moss and boulders that led him and his sister down to the beach - the harsh rocks were none but the birds could perch, and where Arwen had pointed out the little white eggs in spring, - the grassy hills where his father had trained him.

They must have known the place Liam had sat that day four years before and made a promise.

Fisk sat down on the bench, making it creak under his hulking weight. Liam shook the thoughts out of his head and turned from the window. He sat down on the bench and leant against the wall behind him.

Liam and Fisk stared at the sleeping figure, each a little jealous. Liam, for his part, hadn’t slept for thirty-six hours and was beginning to feel it. He was so bruised and aching all over there was no point trying to pinpoint an exact location. It was a more accurate description to say that he hurt than to say any part of him did.

His head felt like it was full of honey. It was heavy, and it felt like his thoughts were swimming through thick viscous liquid.

He wondered distantly if Maria’s baby was a boy or a girl. He had slight anxiety that the baby or the mother wouldn’t make it. Childbirth was nearly as dangerous as being a member of the watch. Even there, the Darkness could get you. But Maria had never had difficulties with any of her children before. She was healthy, and with the help of Elizabeth, her husband, and the midwife, he didn’t think he should worry. Liam knew his mother had died while birthing him. She had been at the lighthouse with only her husband to help her. Arwen had told Liam a lot about Mom, the way she looked and sounded. Later, dad told him more, saying that Mom would have never regretted having him, even if it meant…

“Her hair is so pretty, her voice is so witty,” Fisk interrupted his thoughts in a low, sing-songy voice. For someone who was so large and gruff, Fisk’s singing voice was soft on the ears.

“I thought you were a sailor, Fisk,” Liam said quietly. “Why were you out on the walls last night?”

“I am a sailor, but I try to help out with the Watch when it matters,” Fisk grunted.

“Didn’t you hate the Watch, though?” Liam had always felt like he had an ally in Fisk. He had always seemed to understand that you shouldn’t do a job just because your father did it.

Fisk’s dad had been a member of the watch, but Fisk never wanted to. “I thought I’d heard you say that once you earned your ship, you’d leave Lownire.”

“Oh, I might have said that once or twice, but I’ve grown out of it,” Fisk responded.

There was a snorting sound from the bed. “Once or twice?” Matt asked from behind the pile of blankets. “It was more like once a day. You were always shouting that you would actually take a boat and leave this time.”

Liam laughed. “Glad to see you’re awake. How do you feel?”

Matt sat up, his face was a bit pale, but besides that, he was the same freckled mischief self.

“I feel good… but I do have a slight hunger for human flesh, and I abhor light. Ahhh, my eyes!”

“Your dad wouldn’t like to hear you joking about that.”

“Nah, he’s joked about worse. I inherited this from him.”

“Your mom then.”

“It’s her fault she married my dad,” Matt said. “But sorry, I couldn’t stay quiet listening to such lies as Charles’s. Didn’t you and Finn hate each other? I swear I saw you throw your helmet at him once.” Finn trained all of the fifteen to sixteen-year-old members of the watch.

Fisk grinned. “I don’t know if the old man hated me, but I sure got on his nerves, and oh dear Solus, did I try.” He glanced at Liam, “Oh, sorry for the language, sir.”

Matt laughed, and Liam rolled his eyes. “No need to apologize. I’m not ‘sir.’” Liam cleared his throat, “But why didn’t you leave, like you said you would?”

“Oh, I wanted to, I was working to earn a boat, and then, she came along….” Fisk said dreamily, beginning to sing again, “Her hair is so pretty….”

“Who?” Liam interrupted.

“Rebecka,” He whispered as if the name tasted like vanilla and sugar.

“Is that one of Martha’s girls?” Liam clarified. Martha, the owner of the bakery, had seven daughters. Liam vaguely remembered one of them being named Rebecka.

“Yes, the one with the beautiful eyes,” Fisk responded. “And the light voice.”

This didn’t particularly help Liam since they all looked about the same to him. “I’ll take your word for it.”

“The middle one?” Matt asked, thinking about it.

“That’s her.”

Matt nodded, pursing his lips as if conceding to the wisdom of the choice. “She’s definitely a looker.”

“But why’d she change whether you wanted to leave? There are plenty of pretty girls out there.” Liam pointed out disappointedly. He had always thought that Fisk understood his restless need to do something, to go somewhere.

“Oh, because she’s not just pretty. I want her to be the mother of my children, the wife I see when I come back from the docks, and the woman who sings to me as I grow old.”

“Then why haven’t you married her yet then?”

Fisk snorted. “You think I’d disrespect her and her family by asking for her hand before having anything of my own? I need to earn a boat first.”

Liam gained another glimmer of hope. “So that’s why you’re on the watch, to earn extra wages?”

“Oh no, I don’t get wages for this. I’m just helping out when I can.” He said, “I do this because I don’t want her, or her sisters, or her mother, to have to worry about anything bursting in on their cute little bakery and corrupting anything!”

Matt laughed. “Me neither, I’d join the watch just to protect their pastries, and I’m not even in love with any of them.”

Liam chewed his lip. If he remembered correctly, Matt had been an apprentice to be the town’s storyteller. Liam vaguely remembered him playing the lute at a mayday festival a couple years before. “Wait, Matt, why are you one the Watch?”

“Same reason as Fisk. The ladies.” He winked, “They can’t resist a man with a sword.”

They all chuckled but were interrupted by a knock at the door. As if the knock had merely been a warning, it opened before any of them could react.

Gwen poked her head in. She was wearing a pretty blue dress, and her hair framed her pleasing face in red curls. She looked much more rested than when she had encountered him the day before. Even though they saw each other quite often, and though Liam had dealt with more stressful matters in the past twenty-four hours, the sight of her so pretty still threw him off for a moment.

“Liam, the baby has been born. She’s perfectly healthy. The ritual will be starting soon.”

Liam blinked for a moment, and Matt took over. “You’re not even going to acknowledge your barely living brother?” He asked indignantly.

Liam stood up and recovered himself.

“I already held your hand and cried about it while you were asleep. No point in wasting more tears now that you’re awake,” Gwen responded as Liam stepped to the door.

Liam stopped and looked down at Matt. “Oh, by the way, I declare you clean,”

Matt smiled. “Thanks. Also, Liam, I never got around to mentioning it because I was experiencing excessive pain, but thank you for cleansing me. You saved my life.”

Liam awkwardly nodded as he stepped out of the room. “Thanks.”

Gwen waved at her brother and closed the door.

The chapel was now brightly lit by the many stained glass windows. With the siege over, their shutters had been thrown up, filling the room with colorful beams of light.

“I couldn’t find a breakfast, but I got you some water,” Gwen said, offering a cup. “Thought that after last night you might be thirsty.”

He took the cup and drank deeply.

“Tired?” Gwen asked as she took the cup back from him.

“I’m not entirely sure I’m conscious,” Liam admitted. “But I’ve kinda gotten stuck awake. It’s like I’m all made of hinges that should fall, but they’ve rusted upright… so I’m here.”

Gwen smiled, “You know, when I was little, I thought being a queen would be nice. Now sometimes I wonder if it would just be like being a Keeper but three times worse.”

Suddenly, the large door opened, sending rays of the morning sun down the long middle aisle and lighting the previously invisible dust that danced in the quiet halls. Gwen smiled, “Better be going, though. Good luck.”

Liam caught her by the arm before she stepped away, “I meant to ask: how’s that little girl, Emily?” Liam said.

“You can’t remember my name sometimes, but you got her’s?”

“Shut up,” He said, much too tired to try for another comeback

“She’s great, her dad came back at sunrise, but you really have to take that baby,” Gwen said, slipping away and stepping behind the columns.

Liam turned away from Gwen. The chapel was almost entirely empty. The birth ritual was deeply personal and only done with close family members and the Keepers. Sitting on the front bench were the three little children. Bryan, Tommy, and Rose were all squirming in their pew but quiet compared to their normal selves. Past them was Hugh and Sitric, each standing on either side of the well. The birth ritual was one of the only three ceremonies that required all three Keepers. The Keeper of the Light to walk the child to the well, the Keeper of the Well to clean it in the pure water, and the Keeper of the Wall to kiss it on the forehead, thereby finishing the ritual and making it a true citizen of Lownire.

Liam turned and walked down the center aisle towards the large open door. Standing in the sunlight was Cormac, wearing a clean shirt and good trousers. He held in one arm a bundle of blankets.

Behind him was Maria, who looked happy and a bit relieved.

Cormac stepped forward. His face almost seemed to be glowing. His smile was so large. Or it might have been the bright sunlight on Liam’s tired eyes. He couldn’t tell. Normally, the father presented the child to the Keeper of the Light, but Sitric had his job as Keeper of the Walls.

Cormac passed the baby into his arms and patted him on the back. “Good job last night. Being up on the walls and all,” Cormac said, but Liam barely noticed. He was too preoccupied with the baby.

It was tiny but looked very healthy, even having a full head of curly black hair. Its small form was wrapped tightly in blankets with only its little face exposed.

Her little face was perfect, with long eyelashes and fully formed lips. Like all newly born babies, she was a little discolored and looked squashed, but Liam didn’t care. She was life, in contrast to every dark shadow he had seen throughout the night before.

Maria came up beside him and helped readjust his hold, so it was more comfortable. “Her name is Saoirse,” She whispered.

“That’s a lovely name,” Liam heard himself say while he stared at the baby.

“I’m sorry for what you had to go through last night. You must be exhausted,” Aunt Maria said.

“No, I wasn’t the one giving birth,” Liam laughed. “You must have had a hard night,”

“Well, it was all worth it for her,” She whispered. The bell rang once, shaking the entire Keep.

She smiled at him one last time and gave him a little shove.

Liam turned, remembering what he had seen his father do. He began to walk up the aisle, slowly, for his legs could carry him at no other speed.

Little Saoirse opened her eyes. They were a deep blue, as full and pure as the well of Lastrios. She stared up past Liam up at the vaulted ceiling. Liam followed her gaze. The ceiling, too, was painted a deep blue but covered with a flowing river of yellow stars. With the morning sun reflecting off their golden paint, they seemed to sparkle.

He looked back down at Saoirse. She turned and looked at him, staring deep into his eyes. There was no reserve or judgment in that gaze. His aunt was right. It was worth it for her.

She looked so much like Arwen, he realized. She had the same eyes and curly black hair.

He bit his lips as tears blurred his vision.

“Promise me you will be a good Keeper,” She had said.

“I do promise,” He had responded.

He wouldn’t break his promise to her. He’d be a good Keeper. Even if he hated it. He’d hate losing this new child to the Shadows more. He’d hate knowing that he’d left the village when he could have helped it more. He’d hate being a coward when others were willing to give their life in defense of him.

He wanted to leave more than he wanted to live. There was only one thing he hated more than the thought of being a Keeper, and that was the thought of abandoning her.

He couldn’t break the promise to the one person who’d always listened to him.

He’d accept Grandpa’s offer.

Liam would learn the old tongue.

He would do it. For her, if for nothing else.

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1203 Reviews

Points: 119190
Reviews: 1203

Sat May 21, 2022 10:28 am
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...

Hi MaybeAndrew,

Mailice here with another review! :D

A good continuation of the story, especially with a new insight into Liam. The beginning is a good contrast to the previous part, where you quickly settled in and started to tell the story of Arwen, here you start to fill in some details a little bit, and I like how this slows down the pace and thus moves the flashback more into the past to give again this feeling that we are in the actual main story.

I especially liked these little details here:

Those memories coloring in the fruit of the gardens, adding a sparkle to the river, and finishing out the tips of the banners on the castle wall.

I think this also answers the second question from the previous chapter. It's a good summary and maybe a good glimpse into a future where we might get more flashbacks between Arwen and Liam. After all, it shows through your poetic mix that there was a deep bond between the two.

Where I'm a bit divided is the dialogue between Liam and Fisk and later Matt. I thought it was interesting how they spoke to each other, especially because it felt real, and you can tell there's a release of tension that happened during the fight, but I also found that some of the characters' dialogue was very similar, where you couldn't tell if there were differences between the characters. That's where I would recommend adding in some language features to distinguish Fisk more from Matt, for example, or flipped. Some little thing like not having a word pronounced or a trait like overusing "You know." Or something.

What I liked, as I mentioned before, is the pacing and now this jump in the story. I like how a lot of things feel more comfortable now and the reader has been given more and more of a picture of people's lives, which makes a lot of things feel more tangible and enjoyable than three or four chapters before where we first saw the practice and now the theory.

You notice that Liam now has a stronger will than at the beginning, but that is also still in a phase of development. I was also surprised, especially towards the end, how the narrator's voice sounded like a teasing of this transformation. I thought that was very well done.

Have fun writing!


MaybeAndrew says...

Thaaankkkss so much for the review! I agree about the dialogue bits, I'll be sure to edit those!

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36 Reviews

Points: 301
Reviews: 36

Tue May 10, 2022 12:21 pm
VengefulReaper wrote a review...

Hey! Here to leave a quick review.

Overall thoughts: A great cooldown chapter after all the heart-racing stuff with Matt and the huge lore drops with grandpa and Arwen's story. It's been a while since we've caught up with our characters so this was a nice change of pace.

I'm certainly surprised Liam is still conscious. The man has been through a lot these past few hours. I really love Matt's charisma. He always brings a sense of lightheartedness that can often be absent in the world you've created. Speaking of which, I liked the banter between Fisk, Liam and Matt. It's interactions like these that help build bonds between our characters which means we really feel for them when they're in danger.

I think that if this lighthearted chapter had happened before Matt was infected (I think... I read that chapter months ago lol) I would've felt more for Liam than I did initially.

I don't know if babies are born differently here but if Saoirse wqas born only moments ago, how does she have curly black hair? That's a nitpick. I like the idea of the baby reminding him of Arwen and convincing him to take up Grandpa's offer, but you may want to look into that baby having hair xD.

I know this review is a bit shorter than usual but this was more of a relaxed catch-up chapter than the previous ones. Looking forward to more!

The Reaper sends his regards.

MaybeAndrew says...

Thank you so much for the review Reaper! I'm glad you like Matts like heartedness.
About the baby having a full head of hair, it happens XD ( ... eir%20body.) often times it has to do with the baby being born early, and its rare, but I think its cool, (and cute) and this baby was born a bit early, so it happened to Saoirse. Espically because it made her look more like Arwen.
Anyway, thanks so much for the review!

And today I have learnt something new xD%u2026

"The adventures I enjoy are usually of a literary nature."
— Henry Winchester